Strategic Commissioning Options Appraisal – a new commissioning tool

Is your basic process letting down your systems design? Your relationships holding you back from a user and outcome focus? Or are you sticking to ‘we buy the services we are told to buy’?

A new tool from the Public Service Transformation Academy with RedQuadrant might help you get insight into what’s holding your commissioning back. Commissioned by the Local Government Association’s Care and Health Improvement Programme, jointly run with DHSC and ADASS, we are producing a strategic options appraisal tool for adult social care commissioners.

Commissioners can assess how it’s going in their council, particularly focusing on the extent to which they have ‘room for manoeuvre’ – room to actually be commissioners, shaping the health and care outcomes for their place. We think it will be handy for all commissioners – and that all procurement people should take a look too.

Contact us

To learn more and find out how you can get involved, contact us! Find out more by contacting Benjamin Taylor at and 07931 317230

How does the Strategic Commissioning Options Appraisal work?

A strategic options appraisal for commissioning has three key documents which will guide you through the process. These are

  • Implementation Guide: This is our hands-on guide on how to carry out the options appraisal. It contains guidance on producing and commissioning a development plan, guidance on implementing each of the commissioning approaches, and a strategic risk framework for implementing new commissioning approaches.
  • Self-Assessment: This provides the worksheets and resources required for you to carry out the options appraisal
  • Commissioning Aspects and Approaches: This is a more detailed handbook to explain and give context on terminology.

Carrying out the assessment involves three stages:

  1. Assess yourself against the eight aspects of commissioning

Answer our questionnaire to assess yourself and your team against the core aspects of commissioning. This will help you to identify which factors most enable and constrain you and what shapes your context and room for manoeuvre as a commissioner.

The core aspects are:

  • System design – are we actually able to work as one place and shape a whole health and care system – or, even better, a wellbeing system?
    Procurement folks might like to apply this ‘whole system’ lens to whatever they get involved in – are we just working in our box, or thinking about real world outcomes?
  • Relationships – how do the critical relationships work at present and what could change to help outcomes improve?
    This is always critical in procurement as it is in commissioning – are you empowered to actually bring your best professional judgement and challenge, or do relationships with service, legal, finance, and politicians limit what you can offer?
  • Capacity and capability development – are we helping to build the provision that helps needs to be met and people to achieve their purposes in life (includes market, social procurement, VCFSE, asset-based work, workforce etc)?
    For procurement, we might thing about whether we are ‘just spending money’ or looking at all the ways the desired outcomes of the procurement can be met.
  • User and outcome focus – are we working with the citizens in our area to check and measure that they are actually getting the benefits from our work?
    This is core to procurement – it’s one thing to execute to specification, it’s another thing entirely to actually make sure the benefits were achieved, and were worthwhile…
  • Insight and inspiration – the role of innovation, disruption and experimentation in changing the system – and the respect and role of commissioners or procurement professionals.
  • Policy – are we actively shaping and influencing the core enablers and constraints of the legal and policy framework that we have to operate within, as well as interpreting them?
  • Process – so much attention is usually paid here, yet there’s still room for improvement! Is our commissioning process and practice well developed as a mechanism for commissioning – competition, collaboration, commercials, clarity of contracting? Are we using this for incremental improvement?
    For procurement this is obviously critical too – is our procurement slick, effective, professional?
  • Models and tactics – are we paying attention to the way in which the things we buy get delivered? Service design, workforce, technology, innovation, aggregation, joining up, reducing waste, and improving user journey?

As you can see this is going to be a fairly holistic way for commissioners to look at their situation and work out how to work to create better outcomes.

  • Create a Commissioning Development Plan

Building on your learning from the questionnaire, you need to create a commissioning development plan.

For each aspect:

1. Which factors currently most hold you back?

2. Which most support you?

3. Which of the supporting factors could you boost?

4. Which of the inhibiting factors are:

a) in your control?

b) influenceable?

c) out of your control?

d) require innovation if they are to be changed?

5. Create an action plan to address the inhibiting factors and boost the supporting factors.

  • Identify potential models to fit the context

 Using your questionnaire and worksheet, you can then assess the fit between your context and several core models of commissioning.

Our identified core models include:

  • Prevention and early intervention
    Strong focus on keeping people ‘out of care’ and maximising conditions for people to be able to look after themselves.
  • Leadership of a system in a place
    Acting as a convening body to shape the whole system of health, care, wellbeing, and need in place.
  • Community development focused
    Creating the capability within the community to meet care needs
  • Developing VCFSE capacity
    Meeting care needs through the voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise sector.
  • Political economy approach
    Maximising spend and re-spend locally where it will have maximum impact, minimising extraction of funding for external profit.
  • Individual focused
    Creating conditions for individuals to manage, select, fund, and direct their own care needs.
  • Values-based commissioning
    An approach that aims to challenge the status quo based on citizen perspectives and equity.
  • Disruptive commissioning
    Focus on innovation, creativity, novel approaches and technology
  • Strategic procurement of services against needs
    Procedural focus on good service provision and management
  • Contestability to drive down costs
    Focus on squeezing providers
  • Market management
    Focus on mixed and healthy economy of providers
  • Small government
    Reducing the involvement of democratic decision-makers in delivery through a focus on contracting for provider expertise and user empowerment
  • In-house delivery, mutualisation etc
    Focus on reducing or removing market dynamics from the provision of care

Check Out the New Reimagining Care Commission by the Church of England

The Church of England has created a new ‘Reimaging Care’ commission to consider the future of ageing and disability. RedQuadrant’s Amber Griffiths summarises the report:

Full report published: see it here.

Some information from the summarised version of the report:


This is a new commission to change the future of social care. It is a clear Christian vision, calling to rethink attitudes towards aging and disability within every aspect of our society and its aim is to give every person equal dignity, regardless of capacity. The offered vision requires an essential change of priorities and direction. The main changes proposed to the social care system is the long-term aim to make social care a universal entitlement. The commission shows a vision of one-another care, showing we should have a better sense of what we should do for each other in communities and neighbourhoods, find agreements about where different responsibilities lie, and build long-term networks and associations that will allow people to thrive. The development of a National Care Covenant, proposed by the commission, is the beginning of a wider process to make this vision a reality.

Our vision of care and support in England is that:

  • Care and support enables people to flourish and live life to the full;
  • Access to and funding of care and support is universal and fair;
  • How we care for one another reflects loving kindness and empathy;
  • Society, including churches, are inclusive of all people, of all ages and abilities; and
  • How care and support are delivered promotes mutuality and is based on trust.

Rethinking attitudes:

All the evidence we received – written as well as verbal – suggested the need for a fundamental shift in the way in which ‘care’ is viewed. A greater public acknowledgement is required of the varied ways in which we all need and give care and support at different times in our lives, and a realisation that care is about mutuality rather than dependence. In other words, the language needs to shift from ‘them’ to ‘us’. People need to be viewed as having agency rather than seen as objects of pity. We must also value those who provide care, paid and unpaid.

But these shifts in attitudes to care have to go hand in hand with a challenge to current negative attitudes towards old age, disability, and mental illness. This should involve a cross-party coalition getting behind a large-scale, long-term public campaign to change hearts and minds with church and other faith leaders playing their part.

Rebalancing roles and responsibilities:

  • A greater role for and investment in communities to provide universal support and enable participation and inclusion: Many communities (including faith communities) already provide valuable support and care for older and disabled people. Thriving communities are built on mutuality and reciprocity. However, this needs both investment and nurture, especially by local authorities, if it is to be universal and address inequalities. Local government also plays an important role in promoting inclusion and access to transport, housing, and community infrastructure. Local churches and faith communities need to be equipped with the training and resources to provide effective community-based support in partnership with others and in ways that empower people.
  • A new deal for unpaid carers giving them practical, financial and emotional support: It is important that unpaid carers can freely enter into caring relationships out of love, not necessity. They need to be better valued and supported, with adequate recognition, rest, and recompense (together with paid or unpaid leave and flexible working arrangements for those who combine caring with paid employment). Nobody should automatically assume the availability of unpaid care, which for many is not an option.
  • A stronger role for the state in guaranteeing universal access, providing protection against the costs of care, and defining a framework of entitlements and rights: National government should set out a long-term commitment to introduce a universal entitlement to care and support (on a par with the NHS). Everyone should be able to lead a good life by accessing care and support when they need it regardless of wealth and income. This will require a means of collective funding and pooling of risk, probably with a tariff of care charges established on a national basis. National government will also need to put in place stronger mechanisms to ensure existing legal rights and entitlements are upheld.
  • Accepting our mutual responsibility as active citizens: Social care is everybody’s business. We all have a role to play and must contribute (where we can). This means as citizens, being willing to contribute funding through taxation so that everyone, regardless of income and wealth, can get care and support. It means as members of a community, giving time and looking out for others, from small acts of kindness to volunteering more regularly in community support groups. When we or those we love need care and support, it means engaging proactively to shape the care we need and to use budgets wisely.

Redesigning the system:

Piecemeal tinkering with the existing system will not produce the desired result. We need a radical redesign of the system to make it simple, consistent and person-centred.

Early intervention will be delivered through a universal offer of first contact help in the community. Assessments will be simplified, and a budget allocated based on standardised categories of disability as in Germany and Australia. People will have the freedom to shape their care and support and be trusted to manage their budget (or decide who will manage it on their behalf), supported by independent advocacy.

Local authorities will continue to play a role in shaping the services available in an area, particularly where there are gaps. In addition, the challenge of suitable housing needs to be tackled – not least by the Church of England, which could do more (as the Housing Commission has observed) to use its assets and investments to support integrated, community-based housing options. The potential of person-centred assistive technologies to support people in their own homes also needs further exploration and investment.

We urgently need a new approach to care which includes a long-term plan for the recruitment and retention of paid carers as well as the redesign of roles. Their skill and contribution to people’s lives must be valued and given recognition so that social care is regarded as a rewarding career. This has to be accompanied by improved pay, conditions, and training. Recruitment should be based on values and attitudes as well as qualifications and experience.


Values are the foundation of this new vision for care and support in England. If realised we believe it will transform the lives of all of us, as we share in the benefits of a society where everyone, regardless of age and ability, is able to live a full life. We are not apologetic for the idealism reflected here. But nor are we naïve. We recognise that implementing this vision has costs, that it cannot be the work of government alone, nor will it be achieved in one parliament. It therefore requires a broad coalition, including the Church and leaders of other faiths, to commit to work over the long-term towards this shared vision and make the moral case for change. There remains an urgent need for action to begin immediately.

For further information see the summarised version of the report:

Some other links:

SAVVI and iNetwork UK conference update

By Andrew Humphreys

Since June 2022 RedQuadrant has been providing consultancy support to the SAVVI project, which is the Scalable Approach to Vulnerability Via Interoperability. SAVVI, funded by DLUHC and hosted by Tameside MDC, aims to introduce data standards into the public sector, particularly local government, for finding and supporting vulnerable people. RedQuadrant consultant Andrew Humphreys is providing “SAVVI Coach” services to the project which includes leading the work with local authorities and the Ministry of Justice to adopt the SAVVI approach and standards, implement a model process, develop contextualised data models and design data use and sharing processes. 

On 11th November Andrew Humphreys spoke about SAVVI at the 17th annual iNetwork UK conference in Manchester that was attended by representatives of local authorities, DLUHC and other local government partners from across the country as part of the project’s efforts to see the SAVVI standards and approach broadly adopted by local government. You can watch a video of Andrew speaking about his work on the SAVVI project here: 

Based on success within the local projects that RedQuadrant is supporting, SAVVI is now preparing an application to the Central Digital and Data Office, within the Cabinet Office, to be adopted across Central Government Departments as the mandatory data standards for finding and supporting vulnerable people. RedQuadrant’s work with SAVVI has recently been extended to March 2023 during which time we expect the standards will be deployed by local authorities with which we have been working. 

Commercial Thinking – do we need a new word

By Joanne Peters

“Commercial” is a dirty word in parts of local government. The term is synonymous with privatisation, outsourcing, alternative delivery models, and more generally the extraction of profit, embedded in traditional economic thinking. Often, in engaging with council staff many dismiss commercial thinking as irrelevant or only the concern of those in trading arms or commercial teams.

Commercial acumen is defined as an understanding of how industries and businesses work. It’s about knowing what’s going on in the world and analysing the way that it might impact on your chosen sector and company.

Setting aside the profit connotations clearly associated with the word commercial, there is much to be gained by local government from learning from successful commercial thinking to better deliver against local priorities. In fact, such a negative attitude to ‘commercial’ has implications.

Primarily, being commercial means understanding the organisation’s strategy and priorities, where you and your team fit in, and being able to monitor and measure delivery. It is also about having the skills to understand the local system. Commercial insight is a vital part of understanding the role that a council is playing in local markets, e.g. housing, social care or services to schools, and in building successful partnerships across the public sector and VCS. It is also critical to understanding the implications of often volatile external forces.

Local government is resource constrained. Building a more commercial mindset and understanding how the organisation works supports a shift from rationing a scarce resource to maximising the returns from a scarce resource. It means asking the question, ‘how can we use the budget to get the best outcomes for our residents?’ and having the right information and analytical skills to evaluate options.

Much of what local government does is ‘commercial’, from transactions to contract management, and this is no different from wider commercial enterprise. Being commercial here means being efficient and customer-focused.

Rejecting ‘commercial’, or siloing it to specific teams or entities, means rejecting a mindset and set of skills that are critical for local success. Perhaps we need to develop and nurture a ‘local government acumen’, a nuanced version of commercial acumen?

Commercial skills for successful trading

In 2018, research identified that 59.2% of authorities had at least one trading company, and many more operate venues or sell other services on a commercial basis. Where councils have made a strategic decision to operate services on a commercial basis, having the right skills in place to do this is critical. High profile failures of local council commercial entities have highlighted the risks of not having the right skills at the table.

  1. Get the governance right. Senior leaders and members need to understand roles and responsibilities and have the skills and experience to discharge these effectively. They need to avoid conflicts of interest and bring in the right commercial expertise (e.g. independent non-executive directors)
  2. Sales and marketing. In short, to create profit in an open market you need to create something that someone values enough to buy and to pay you more than it costs to create, produce, sell, and service it. There needs to be an understanding of the market, competitors, and the unique selling point of the services.
  3. Commercial finance and legal advice. Making sure robust tax and legal guidance is available as well as the right financial support built on understanding of sales data, costs, and drivers of profit. Council finance systems are typically not designed to understand this, being focused on resource allocation and budget monitoring.

Underlying this as a foundation stone is an entrepreneurial culture, where staff are supported to take measured risks, to learn, to start and stop activities, and respond flexibly to change.

Camden Lighthouse produces a new toolkit

The Lighthouse in Camden is the first ‘Child House’ in the country, bringing together a range of child-friendly multi-disciplinary services for children and young people who allege sexual abuse at some time in their lives. RedQuadrant has been commissioned by MOPAC to work with the Lighthouse on several projects since 2018, including developing a cost-benefit methodology and a sustainability strategy. The Lighthouse is an evidence-based approach which places the child or young person’s best interests at the centre, delivering a tailor-made, integrated, and holistic solution with a view to improving outcomes for the child and achieving a better criminal justice result.   

Now, the Lighthouse and RedQuadrant have co-developed a multimedia toolkit which documents the journey and describes the lessons learned from setting up the Lighthouse in London. This interactive toolkit provides layered information and advice for those interested in setting up a Child House child sexual abuse service.  

A newly updated and revised version of the toolkit can be found by following this link

The PSTA is launching a new Contract Management programme this Autumn

The Public Service Transformation Academy is launching a new programme on contract management for public service professionals. Learn more by following the link below:

12-16 September, Freethinkers: Unleashing the Spirit of Transformation

Have you ever tried to navigate the rough seas of organizational transformation? Then you know that the wisdom of practice often beats the best theory and good intentions!

Therefore, Good Organisations are very excited to announce a unique series of global conversations with experienced and passionate freethinkers and crafts(wo)men of organizational change: During the week of 12-16th September we will feature interactive and inspiration-packed conversations.

Benjamin Taylor, of RedQuadrant and the PSTA, will be a speaker on Thursday 15th, speaking about ‘Transforming the Organisational System’ with Joan Lurie (Orgonomix) and Sonja Blignaut (More Beyond).

Other speakers include Gertje van Roessel (Buurtzorg), Emanuele Quintarelli (Boundaryless), James Priest (Sociocracy 3.0), Michele Zanini (Humanocracy), Rachel Murch (The Maonach Group), Ted Rau (Sociocracy for All), Joan Lurie (Orgonomix), Sonja Blignaut (More Beyond), Tim Mooney (The Maonach Group), Timm Urschinger (LIVEsciences), John Knights (LeaderShape), JB Dernoncourt (Copap Inc), Heidi Gutekunst (Amara), Richard Claydon (EQ Lab), Lionel Yang (Business Philosopher), Lara Bezerra (Work Coherence), Donna Okell (UK for Good), Michael Smith (Impact Bridge), Daniela Landherr (Google/Human Space), Laura Mueller (Goetterfunken), Justin Hughes (Mission Excellence) – and more fantastic speakers will be announced daily!

If you have been looking for an opportunity to engage, talk and compare notes with seasoned professionals, colleagues and friends from all around the globe – about what it really (really, really) means to successfully enable organizational transformation and spark the human spirit for a better society and planet…


For more information, follow these links:

– YouTube event teaser –

– Medium publication – workplace-elevate-e4247e30c069

– LinkedIn event –

– Information on the official Good Organisations website –

Are you ready for the next generation? Where is local government in the rapidly changing world of finance? Are the skills in place to navigate the change?

By Jo Peters.

I work with lots of different UK local authorities and I can see that, as a local government finance leader, your inbox is relentless. Pressures are mounting from all sides. Balancing the budget is the top priority. The increasing number of councils that have succumbed to section 114 notices is a constant reminder of why this is. But your challenge is compounded by multiple factors. A few of the biggest headache inducers include continuous uncertainty over funding, changes to the rules which govern borrowing and investing, accounting, reporting and auditing, and the daily frustrations of interacting with creaky systems and often unreliable data quality.

At the same time, the world is changing. Beyond local government, the traditional role of finance managers as ‘masters of the numbers’ has begun to shift. The ONS projects that more than 50% of current finance jobs will be automated within 10 years. Better access to financial information across the organisation will result in less reliance on finance teams and on traditional budget and reporting cycles. Similarly, the growing awareness of environmental and social value will play an increasingly important role in how organisations, including local government, choose to invest and spend.

“When the rate of change inside an institution becomes slower than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight”

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

I have spent the last few months immersed in thinking about the future of finance while studying at the Cambridge University Institute of Sustainable Leadership. Here there is a rapidly increasing shift to a more impactful approach to business, driven by regulation, shareholder and investor pressure, and the demands of civil society. It is projected that over the next 10 years regenerative business models will come to the fore, with organisations committed to the circular economy and applying full cost accounting to all business impact in the environmental, social, and economic spheres[1].

Where is local government on this change curve? For many, there is an awareness that things are changing, but preparing to respond is, unsurprisingly, lingering at the bottom of that very full in-tray. For others, the pressure is more real and new operating models and new ways of working across the organisation have necessitated finance leaders to consider their own return on investment as a finance function and put change into action. I predict that the same shift that is being seen in the corporate sector will need to happen in local government, but the challenges and pressure faced by finance leaders will make this a difficult shift in comparison to more agile organisations.

We think that having the next generation of finance leaders in place is a great way to start to put in place the adaptability, flexibility and resilience that will be needed to navigate this new world and it is something that is possible, despite other pressures. Are you hiring and developing this next generation of finance leaders in your organisation? What should you be looking for? Here are our top five to look out for:

Technical excellence – this is your backbone. Regardless of the digital advances, there will always be a need for technical expertise to understand the numbers, regulations, and tax issues and interpret this for the organisation. The nature of technical expertise will change as there is a shift to a wider definition of value incorporating environmental and social factors.

Commercial acumen – this isn’t about setting up a trading company, this is about understanding how value is created for the community (beyond finance and beyond organisational boundaries) and building this into decision making. For example, in Oldham an asset-based approach was taken to develop a Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership with a consortium of local organisations, investing in community resources and focusing on early intervention.[2]

Systems thinking – you will need an increasing ability to deal with complexity which can be led by diversity of thought and incremental approaches to managing risk. For example, in recognition that service teams are dealing with complex problems and moving targets, there needs to be flexibility and agility in how budgets are used to ensure resources (both financial and human) are directed to the right thing rather than the thing we planned to spend it on. This will require courage in a climate of financial constraint.

Curiosity, empathy, and an open mind – continuously learning, developing, and building relationships within and outside the organisation. Collaboration will be key to addressing the complex problems that we are facing locally, nationally, and globally. Partnership working has failed so often because of poor relationships, mismatched expectations, and imbalanced rewards. Having a team with the skills to engage and learn about others, find common ground with partners, and embrace complexity and change will enable leadership of successful system change[3].

Storytelling – providing engaging, valuable, and influential insight to support purposeful decision making. Turning strategies into stories will inspire and motivate change to such an extent that organisations such as Microsoft, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, NASA, and the World Bank are intentionally training leaders in the art of storytelling. People will always tell stories, this is about setting the narrative and replacing bad stories with good ones.

Do you agree? Does this match what you are looking for? How does your team stack up?

I think this is a conversation worth having and am keen to continue it with those who are grappling with the challenges and questions I started to wrestle with here. We can either do that in the comments below or over a coffee, I’m on

[1] Grayson, D., Coulter, C. & Lee, M. (2018). All In: The Future of Business Leadership. Abingdon: Routledge


[3] McKinsey. (2019). Answering society’s call: A new leadership imperative. McKinsey Quarterly, November.

Making Partnerships Work

By Emma Harewood. For more, follow this link to her LinkedIn post on Beyond Therapy.

On 19th May Bluestar hosted ‘Beyond Therapy’, the first ever festival of activism for child sexual abuse in Bristol dedicated to re-imagining our society’s response to child sexual abuse through research, creativity and connection. Emma Harewood hosted a panel with experts from The Lighthouse, Bristol SARC, NHS England commissioner and Claire Bethel of RedQuadrant, to talk about ‘Shaping the system around children and families – encouraging professionals to work in partnership to create whole system change.’

What does it mean to work in a true partnership?

The Lighthouse team explained it takes more than just co-location, although that certainly enables sharing of knowledge and expertise across agencies. Creating an understanding of each other roles, culture and priorities means you can influence others to keep the child central. They described working with police to slow down the process at the start of investigation so the child feels in control. As well as providing expert consultation to support social workers and teachers in the community, allowing the service to reach a wider group of children and embed good practice. And understanding the restorative value of the doctor’s examination.

Partnerships take time to create, and the team advised others to invest enough time in developing agreed ways of working before they open the door to children.  They encouraged commissioners and policy makers to ensure there are enough sessions provided to create safe spaces for children to share and for supporting parents with the skills to be there for their child.

What are the benefits for children and young people when we work in a partnership?

The young people said they really valued all services being under one roof and the holistic service.  Their persuasive voices gave support to recommission the full service offer after the pilot and convinced the judiciary to allow pre-record cross examinations in the Lighthouse. 

We heard how the children felt welcome and ‘almost loved’ at the Lighthouse, only having to tell their story once in a safe place. They had choice and control over who they talked to and when.  For the first time, the professionals had been organised around them, rather than the child fitting in with the professional’s ways of working. Young people in Bristol, Jersey and London have all said that being able to access something as simple as a sexual health follow-up in the safe place they first met the doctor after sexual abuse, is better than travelling to an adult focused GUM clinic where they felt judged. The Bridge in Bristol are looking for young people’s voices to amplify the need for this partnership service in their local SARC right now. Other young people in the AYPH study, remind us how important holistic support is to help re-establish friendships, school and family life.

Why is it so hard to achieve partnership working?

Ultimately the financial resources needed to create joined up partnership services are considerable and seen by some as gold standard. As well as the time it takes to really invest in the relationships and understanding needed to create true partnership. Add into the mix the logistical nightmare of all partners, commissioners and policy makers aligning their shared vision and commitment at the same time as contracts end! And finally, the need for sacrifices to be made in organisational culture and ‘the way we do things round here’ to find a middle way.

Creating new partnership and whole system change need passionate, relentless and creative leaders – but the difference the change can make to children, families and adult survivors is priceless.  The external Lighthouse evaluation and final annual report have shown that investing in holistic, long-term support in a multi-agency partnership improves the experience and outcomes for children and families.  With less victim withdrawals and more cases making it as far as the CPS, the Lighthouse partnership is starting to turn the tide towards a more child friendly experience of the justice system against the backdrop of a shocking all-time low in the conviction rates in the UK for child sexual abuse.

You can read more about the Lighthouse and setting up your own version of a Child House model partnership in the Child House Toolkit and the Home Office Child House Partnership Guidance.

With thanks to the panel members:

Emma Harewood (chair) – Co-founder of the Lighthouse – the first UK Barnahus for children that experience sexual abuse, the Child House model and CSA hub model.

Marian Moore, NSPCC service manager at the Lighthouse

Eimear Timmons, Practice Development Manager at the Lighthouse

 Dr Michelle Cutland, Clinical Director at The Bridge and CSA Centre for Expertise

Claire Bethel, RedQuadrant.  Policy expert in sexual violence and author of Child House Toolkit

Becks Marsh – NHS England Commissioner in the South West

SAVVI – a system approach to identifying vulnerability

I recently found out about SAVVI, which stands for “a Scalable Approach to Vulnerability via Interoperability”. SAVVI, led by Tameside Council and sponsored by GMCA, aims to use data to find vulnerable people. The project is developing a catalogue of datasets, their sources and the basis on which they can be used by organisations delivering public services to identify individuals or households with particular vulnerabilities, such as for the purpose of homelessness prevention. 

Having worked with local authority and publicly available secondary data for some time, often building specific analytical tools to spec, I saw the potential straight away of SAVVI to transform how organisations delivering public services use their and others’ data to improve the work they do and outcomes for the vulnerable people identified. 

Vulnerability often looks different from different parts of the system, and it can be difficult to fully identify vulnerability and people’s needs from within a single service so my hope is that SAVVI brings different perspectives across the system of public services together in the form of powerful datasets that can be used to identify, and then support, those whose needs are currently invisible. 

You can find out more about SAVVI here:

and watch video presentations about the project here: 

Using secondary data to identify vulnerability and support needs isn’t a new idea. In 2018/19, when I was interim Business Intelligence and Performance Manager for the soon to be Somerset West and Taunton Council, I initiated a project to develop a dataset using council tax, police, and DWP data that would enable the council to better identify or even predict households for which earlier support could help to prevent council tax payment defaults. 

The principle being applied was that support that meets citizens’ underlying needs is always going to be cheaper than enforcement action after things have gone wrong and will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for all involved. The aim of the business intelligence work, under whose umbrella the project sat, was to develop a single dataset for all council held data in a GIS, which is a database for geographic data, so that any form of geographical analysis could be conducted as required. 

I was fortunate to have a very skilled team but only saw the very start of the project while I was there so it’s great to see SAVVI being developed as this could open up the power of data that is already available, to address challenging population issues across the system. 

If you’re interested in the power of geographic data, you might also want to have a look at HMG’s Geospatial Strategy: